Significant disease of citrus trees stopped at border

Biosecurity officers recently intercepted a number of fruit items at Australia’s borders, which were found to be carrying a citrus disease.

Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the items were intercepted on separate occasions and all tested positive for citrus canker pathogen.

“This is an example of the significant biosecurity risks that Australia faces and why it is so important to follow our biosecurity conditions,” O’Connell said. “Back in 2004, a citrus canker outbreak had a major impact on our million-dollar citrus industry and the disease has also caused extensive production losses in citrus industries overseas.

“These recent interceptions are particularly concerning given there is an ongoing national response plan in place to manage previous detections of citrus canker in Northern Territory and Western Australia. In the past few months, a passenger arrived at Brisbane Airport with one kilogram of limes and another brought dried citrus peel with them.

“Biosecurity officers also intercepted dried whole citrus fruit that was imported, and all of these items were confirmed to be carrying the citrus canker pathogen. The products were declared and they were all destroyed to ensure the biosecurity risks were effectively managed.

“While Australia’s biosecurity officers and detector dogs do a great job, this is a valuable reminder that we need everyone to do their part and not bring or send prohibited items to Australia.”

Last year, more than 12,000 citrus items were intercepted at Australia’s international airports. Any one of these items may have posed a serious risk.

You must correctly declare biosecurity risk material when travelling or importing to Australia. If you don’t, penalties may include prosecution or fines. If you are visiting Australia, you can have your visa cancelled.